Tim Oliver is the Leader of Surrey County Council and the division member for Weybridge.
Since becoming Leader in 2018 I’ve been determined to get Surrey County Council’s finances on a stable footing and raise the bar in terms of service delivery, innovation and meeting our climate change obligations.
We have embarked on a period of root and branch transformation. That has required hard choices but is starting to bear fruit. It has allowed us to take significant sums out of back office functions and improve our ways of working, that has delivered £200m in efficiency savings. Most of the increase in council tax now is to fund the increased demand for adult social care and Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) services. This continues to be our largest area of spend (at about £1.5m per day).
I hope the government’s Fairer Funding Review, which was being run by the new Chancellor Rishi Sunak, will level out funding across the country and we will benefit from that. In the meantime we will continue our drive for efficiency and to get better value out of our property estate among other things.
We continue to lobby the Government on the funding formula for roads. Surrey gets £28,000 per mile which is half of what London boroughs get, yet our 3,000 miles of roads are heavily used. We have topped up that money by millions and are starting to see fewer potholes and improved repairs. Ultimately we need to get more people out of cars and
on to public transport as part of our greener agenda. We will put more electric buses on our roads, underpinned by an app where passengers can see in real-time where the next bus is, or book it.
We have been working with Leeds University to analyse our carbon footprint and put in place a strategy for continued reductions to make us carbon neutral by 2050. This will include planting 1.2m trees - one for every Surrey resident.
Finally, we’ve set aside £100m over five years for a Community Investment Fund. We’re setting up a website for residents to tell us what they want in their communities, for example a refurbished hall, a new playground or bus, anything that will make a real difference to your area.